Smart-alec kids can be really annoying. I can say this with complete confidence as I spent about ten years of my life being far too clever for my own good and suffering the consequences in the form of regular clips around the ear and occasional black eyes from my long-suffering parents and school friends.
Eventually (and this did take a while), I realised that the vast majority of people don?t appreciate having their mistakes pointed out to them (the remainder being masochists who you probably don?t want to hang around in case the conversation turns to leather underpants) and my life became a far less painful place.
Ironically, people now pay significant sums of cash for me to point out their mistakes on the basis that prevention is better than cure when you?re about to sign up to a multi-million pound contract. I do however realise that even though I may not have enjoyed the aforementioned chastisements, they were in fact for my own good in that I became a much less unpleasant person to be around as a result.
Thank God, then, that I didn?t grow up in Canada. Because in Canada, it turns out there is a law that lets children apply to the court to have their parents? decisions overturned (which can be found in sections 159 and 604 of the Quebec Civil Code, in case you were wondering). Can you imagine how insufferable a kid would be if he could take you to court for grounding him or delivering a well-earned smack to the back of the head? Even worse, can you imagine a lawyer that thinks that it is in any way a good idea to make this sort of application on behalf of a child? And the sort of judge that would rule in the child?s favour?
Imagine no more – just a couple of weeks ago, Madam Justice Suzanne Tessier of the Quebec Superior Court ruled that a father?s decision to ground his twelve year-old daughter for persistently posting on internet chatrooms after he told her to stop was unreasonable and should be overturned. The father (who was not named) had decided to stop the girl from going on a school trip and when she mentioned this to her lawyer Lucie Fortin (who had been appointed in connection with the divorce of her parents), Ms Fortin decided that the best thing to do would be to publicly undermine the authority of parents everywhere by getting the court to confirm that daddy doesn?t know best.
In my eyes, this is a horrible consequence of the nanny state?s idea of treating children like little adults by giving them rights and legislating for every possible danger that may befall them. It is very likely that smacking children will soon be made illegal due to the persistent high-pitched whining of lobbyists who say that children must be protected from the horrible adults who they are forced to live with and for whom anything that doesn?t result in the child getting their own way amounts to abuse. A child must be perpetually coddled and loved, even if this results in a spoilt nightmare of a brat who makes everybody?s life a misery and who will develop narcissistic and sociopathic tendencies in later life (and I admit that a surprising number of these seem to become lawyers).
Although there will always be cases where children who have suffered neglect or genuine abuse must be protected, I would argue that your average child has far more in common with a Labrador than, say, a nuclear physicist. A Labrador is capable of boundless love and affection but needs to be taught behavioural boundaries and there are only two ways of communicating these – by the use of rewards and the use of physical force. Obviously, it is preferable to use a reward-based system but unfortunately a Labrador, like many children, will not always respond to reasoned argument or realise that rights are paired with responsibilities and so the odd use of force can be eminently justifiable.
Likewise, it is an owner?s responsibility to ensure that passers-by are not bitten or p*ssed on and so the Labrador must be trained – however it is shocking to see how many parents think that the education of their child is solely the responsibility of the child?s school and believe the mindless mantra of a thousand soap operas and aeons of daytime TV – it doesn?t matter how your kids turn out so long as you love them. Loving them apparently makes everything OK, even if they are illiterate thugs who have no hope of contributing anything to society beyond the provision of employment for social workers, probation officers and Jeremy Kyle.
At the other end of the social scale, far too many parents will automatically take their children?s side in any argument, undermining the authority of teachers (and in some circumstances the police). The same parents are then as shocked as a nun stumbling into a brothel when their little snowflake tells them to f*ck off and stays out past midnight – however by then they have lost all hope of discipline because the child simply does not respect authority and has become so used to swearing at and ignoring the instructions of teachers that doing the same to their parents is a natural progression.
The upshot of all this is that in order to properly raise a Labrador child, parents need the will to impose discipline and to establish a respect for authority – how are they to do this when a kid can simply call up his or her lawyer and appeal every decision? Fortunately, the Canadian judgment above is now itself being appealed and so there is an outside chance that our moose-loving cousins will be spared the horror of a generation of obnoxious little know-it-alls (and the corresponding surge in applications to law schools in ten years? time).